We’re incredibly disappointed with the details of Brisbane City Council’s plans to reconfigure the intersection of Gladstone Rd and TJ Doyle Memorial Drive at Dutton Park, to facilitate access to the new Inner City South State Secondary College.
This intersection is adjacent to the entrance to the new school, so the primary design consideration should be making it safe and convenient for students to walk, cycle, or take public transport to school.
Additionally, Gladstone Rd is identified on the Principal Cycle Network Plan, and is on the busy public and active transport connection to the Eleanor Schonell Bridge (and thus to the University of Queensland and western suburbs) from West End and Highgate Hill.
Finally, the climb up TJ Doyle Memorial Drive and Gladstone Rd is part of Brisbane’s popular “River Loop” which is ridden by hundreds of recreational and sporting cyclists every day; it is perhaps the most iconic experience of Brisbane’s healthy and active outdoor lifestyle.
Yet, despite all these considerations, the intersection seems somehow to have been designed to optimise the convenience of people travelling by car. We ask: why is motor vehicle traffic being encouraged in such a key location, less than 3km from the CBD?
We know that the current design is not supported by the local councillor, Cr Jonathan Sri, who wrote to various stakeholder groups in November 2019.
Representatives from Space for Cycling attended information sessions in May 2019 about the master plan for the new school, specifically to discuss our concerns about the surrounding road infrastructure. Disappointingly, it seems that not only was our input regarding active transport connections ignored, but the final design for this intersection is even worse that what was presented at that time.
We note that the final approved plan does not even match the initial plan submitted in the development application (A005226562) in June 2019.
We have four major areas of concern with what is currently under construction:
1) An unsignalised left turn has been added for drivers turning left from Gladstone Rd into TJ Doyle Memorial Drive. Not only is that likely to pose danger to cyclists using the on-road lane on Gladstone Rd, but it seems totally unsuitable in such immediate proximity to a school. Any left turn slip lane should make very clear to drivers that they must give way (by law) to pedestrians. We also have concerns that the new slip lane may require removal of the mature ficus tree as the corner of the park is sliced off to make more room for cars.
2) There is no pedestrian crossing on the north-western arm of the intersection. Thus, a person simply wanting to cross Gladstone Rd (eg. to reach the relocated bus stop, Stop 16 Gladstone Rd at Dutton Park) would have to push four beg-buttons and wait multiple complete traffic cycles to simply get across the road. That flies in the face of all design standards and guidance to enable and encourage active transport, and is especially egregious here, given the immediate proximity to the school.
3) There is no suitable provision in the plans for cyclists attempting to make a right turn from Gladstone Rd into TJ Doyle Memorial Drive. Just because the arrangement there hasn’t been ideal in the past is no excuse for such a major project to now make it even more difficult.
4) Finally, as noted above, this intersection is on the River Loop, with hundreds of cyclists each day turning left from TJ Doyle Memorial Drive to Gladstone Rd. Creating a situation where potentially dozens of riders are required to stop together at a red light in the middle of a climb before turning left into a narrow bike lane seems like a recipe for non-compliance, not to mention falls and injuries. Bicycle Queensland have campaigned in the past for safety improvements on the River Loop, yet this seems to be a significant backwards step, and one which would likely concern many Bicycle Queensland members.
Where to now?
We are putting together a petition to the Queensland Parliament (sign here), and requesting that Deputy Premier Jackie Trad—whose South Brisbane electorate this project falls into—intervene to stop the work on this intersection immediately, require that it be made safe, and direct Brisbane City Council back to the drawing board to work with suitably qualified experts to redesign a solution which supports and encourages walking and cycling, in contrast to the current plan.
What could an alternative design look like?
While noting that we are not transport design professionals, we can still see ways in which good design principles for active transport could be applied at this intersection. The sketch below suggests an alternative vision. We welcome input from professionals in this space to contacts us via email with their improvements:
Or, a perhaps you prefer a more traditional approach to the bike lane v. left turn lane conflict, like this?